Jack Abramoff, the former king of corruption, says he knows it when he sees it — and Sen. Robert Menendez’s relationship with a top donor amounts to “bribery.”
In a Wednesday interview with Breitbart News, Abramoff said that Dr. Salomon Melgen’s perk-loaded relationship with Menendez “is virtually the standard playbook for somebody who is trying to worm his way in with government contracts.”
Three concurrent investigations by the Senate Ethics Committee, the FBI, and a grand jury are all reportedly looking into the extent to which Melgen provided Menendez with exceptional perks — including private flights, lodging at a pricey Dominican resort, and allegedly prostitutes — in exchange for advancing his highly-lucrative business interests.
Formerly a powerful lobbyist in Washington, DC, Abramoff famously pleaded guilty to and served several years in prison for a variety of corruption-related charges. Since then, he’s come out as a reformed man, revealing what he sees as a continuing cycle of corruption in the nation’s capital.
“The same thing never stopped happening,” Abramoff told Breitbart News, referring to the relationship between Melgen and Menendez. “Ninety-nine percent of what I did was legal; that’s the problem … The real issue is not necessarily what I went to prison for, but the real issue is the sleaze of it all is legal.”
His comments followed new revelations by Politico that Melgen has flown Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his private plane and posed for photographs with both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama in 2012. While taking photos with powerful politicians may seem innocuous, Abramoff insists that pictures like that are in fact a huge deal for someone like Melgen.
“Just getting your picture with the president — a lot of people look at that and go ‘eh, you know, who cares?’ — well, I’ll tell you who cares: He cares,” Abramoff said in the interview, explaining that Melgen can use the photo to demonstrate his own importance and gain further access “in the bureaucracy.”
Abramoff slammed Reid as “one of the dirtiest players in the Senate” and said Obama should make a point of condemning Menendez and Melgen publicly for the relationship, especially now that he knows Menendez “allowed Melgen to get in a photo frame with the president.”
“I mean, Obama’s the one who should cut off Menendez’s head,” Abramoff said.